The week back from winter holiday is always an odd experience for any educator; the caffeine is never strong enough, every one seems to wander about trying to find the couch for the obligatory 2 PM nap, and work generally cramps ones style developed over three weeks of watching Downton Abbey. But I made it into work, because as my husband is fond of reminding me we have not struck it rich yet. Although drowsy, I did show up with a healthy amount of optimism which was immediately challenged as I set out with a colleague to a high school. While we were not able to speak to the Media Specialist we soon came across a recent purchase of hers – Promethean ActivExpression2 – we believe there are two sets….. We found one set in a math class with a very young teacher. I asked the teacher in conversation how many of her students had cell phones. She answered: “almost all of them.”
So, the teacher knows students have cell phones. The Media Specialist buys two sets of ActivExpression2 – a single use device – which has undergone a makeover to look more like a Blackberry it appears. The student keeps their phone in their pocket to learn to use this device, the teacher has to learn to use the proprietary software, and the teacher goes through the exercise of adding questions to the software. Did I mention the $2K+ cost for a set of these single use devices? Where is the CHANGE? Single-use, proprietary, expensive, redundant devices. No communication? No planning? No vision? Leadership does not appear to be impacted by the changing face of the classroom and the evolving role of student interaction on their own terms.
Today I read an article from a high school teacher within the same district. This high school is a lower socioeconomic status than the previously mentioned HS – 44Smart Ways to Use Smartphones. While I delight in the openness this teacher has toward BYOD as a solution to fold into his ever-changing practice, why are these thoughts not promoted while the old, inefficient practices ended?
Where is the real progress? I fear it is not at the top, but at the intersection of a teacher willing to listen to students and students engaged in their course of study where any real change is occurring. How does one reach school leaders to impact real change in educational thought around student-centered technology – make them substitute teachers in a required 9th grade class?